Fill 1






Persecution Type

Islamic oppression



Persecution Level

Very High






Federal Parliamentary Constitutional Monarchy


Sultan Abdullah of Pahang

Profile of Persecution

Violence 2.4/16.7
Church Life 10.0/16.7
National Life 11.5/16.7
Community Life 12.9/16.7
Family Life 14.3/16.7
Private Life 12.1/16.7

What does persecution look like in Malaysia? What is life like for Christians?

In Malaysia, the government and religious groups monitor churches and it is illegal to share the gospel with Malay Muslims. Converts from Islam to Christianity experience the most persecution, as every ethnic Malay is expected to be Muslim. These believers are often forced to hide their faith and meet in secret. If discovered, they could face divorce from their spouse, rejection from their family—or even risk being sent to a re-education camp.

This is why pressure is most extreme in the family and community life spheres for Malay believers. Whoever leaves Islam is not just going against Malaysia’s constitution, but also against society at large—pitting believers against their own family members and neighbors.

However, apart from the abduction of certain Christians in recent years, persecution has rarely been violent in Malaysia. Pastor Joshua Hilmy and his wife Ruth have been missing for more than three years now, after they disappeared from their home in the state of Selangor. Pastor Raymond Koh was abducted while driving on a busy road in the city of Petaling Jaya and has been missing since February 2017. His whereabouts are still unknown, and according to the findings of the country’s human rights commission, Malaysia’s Special Branch of the police was involved in the abduction.

Meet “Aina”

“When I was a Muslim, I prayed five times a day during my teens to please my parents. I read and recited the Quran. I fasted. But I had never experienced anything like [Christ] before.”

What has changed in Malaysia?

Though Malaysia dropped by six ranks on the 2021 World Watch List from last year, the reality of persecution in the country remained largely unchanged. While there was some hope for a new openness in Malaysia after elections in 2018, to a great extent this has not happened. The hopes that came with the new government and its seeming commitment to more religious liberty have been replaced with disappointment, and persecution against followers of Jesus has not changed much at all.

Who is most vulnerable to persecution?

There are no hotspots of persecution for Christians in Malaysia. However, the Islamic missionary work among Christians—especially among the Bumiputra people group—focuses on East Malaysia. As the number of migrating Muslims grew in the region, specifically in Sabah State, the area’s religious affiliation ceased to be Christian-majority several years ago.

What does Open Doors do to help Christians in Malaysia?

Given the increasing restrictions that the Malaysian government and society places upon the local churches and new believers, Open Doors calls for prayers from Christians, worldwide. Prayers are especially needed for new believers who are thirsty for spiritual nourishment and fellowship.

Population statistic: Johnson T M and Zurlo G A, eds., World Christian Database (Leiden/Boston: Brill, accessed February 2020).

Pray for Malaysia

  • Pray for believers who seek to meet in secret. Ask God to give them meaningful times of worship and fellowship—along with the protection they need to gather safely.
  • Pray for religious freedom across Malaysia. Today, it is illegal to share the gospel with Malay Muslims—and it is also unlawful for Malay Muslims to leave Islam for Christianity.
  • Pray for Malay believers who have left Islam and are often isolated and cut off from their family members for embracing Jesus. Ask God to give them special grace and that they would know and feel they are never alone.
  • Pray for wisdom and boldness for church leaders as they lead their people in discipleship. Ask God to give Malay believers unity and strength to live out their faith through every trial they face.

Stories from Malaysia

January 18, 2021

13 Christians murdered for following Jesus—every day

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January 14, 2021

Betrayed, watched and martyred: 5 major trends in persecution against Christians

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August 23, 2020

DENIED!—8 places where starving Christians are refused government relief

Read More -